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Signs at the last round of teacher strikes (Photo: Emily Writes)
Signs at the last round of teacher strikes (Photo: Emily Writes)

The BulletinSeptember 12, 2018

The Bulletin: Will primary teachers strike again?

Signs at the last round of teacher strikes (Photo: Emily Writes)
Signs at the last round of teacher strikes (Photo: Emily Writes)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Teachers not impressed by new pay offer, attempt to use the Harmful Digital Communications Act to fight bad press, and swamp house family evicted.

A new pay offer has been made to primary teachers, and will be considered by union members in an online ballot. Radio NZ reports that in general terms it is an increased offer on the one teachers went on strike against. Under the offer the standard pay rise would be 3% each year for 3 years, but under the previous offer new teachers would have got a total 14% pay rise over three years. The Ministry of Education says they changed the offer, in response to concerns that the previous one was weighted too heavily in favour of new teachers. The total cost of the offer is $569 million over four years.

There are some real concerns with the offer though, says the union. The NZEI says there are no provisions for reducing workloads or class sizes. Like with the nurses earlier this year, it’s not necessarily about the money – practitioners of the job say it is burning them out. As such the union has chosen not to recommend voting either for or against the offer.

So will teachers strike again? It certainly isn’t being ruled out, reports Stuff. It’s being described in terms like “a slap in the face” and a token to get rid of us.” It’s not a scientific measure by any stretch, but during the one-day strike earlier in the year, when a large group of teachers in Wellington were asked if they’d consider a two day strike next time, the response was a resounding cheer in favour. If the offer is rejected next week, the chances of another strike will increase dramatically, and at a time of the year when the ministry will have plenty of other worries to be getting on with.

Anyone ever heard of the Streisand Effect? Sir Ray Avery is trying to use the Harmful Digital Communications Act to get Newsroom’s reporting on his business ventures taken off the internet, reports Newsroom. Sir Ray argues that the reporting amounts to harm, and contains false allegations.

There are already legal measures that can be taken if someone feels they’ve been misrepresented or lied about in the press – they can sue for defamation. As Stuff editor Patrick Crewdson tweeted, a similar measure was taken against their site last year, but failed in court. So whatever the outcome of attempting to use the HDCA in this way is will be interesting for the industry as a whole, and law professor Andrew Geddis has an outline of the legal issues on The Spinoff.

A week or so ago there was a story about a family complaining about living in a swamp house rental. Well, they’re not going to live in the swamp house much longer, because their landlord has evicted them, reports Radio NZ. Most of the issues that the landlord was forced to fix have now been resolved, but the family has still been hit with a 90 day notice – with no reason given as to why. Retaliatory evictions are illegal under the Residential Tenancies Act.

The first thing to note about this story is that you shouldn’t immediately panic. With that out of the way, Stuff reports that scientists are warning that another big quake on the Alpine fault in the South Island is inevitable. It’s a well written story – not alarmist – but making it clear that preparations for such an event are being made, and will need to continue.

Power prices really are higher than they were in 1990, even allowing for inflation, reports Interest. There’s a two tier system developing, says a report from the Electricity Price Review panel, and those able to shop around aren’t suffering the high prices nearly as much. And Radio NZ reports that ‘power poverty’ is a growing struggle for many.

The outgoing chief science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman has called for a public debate on genetic modification, reports Politik. Why? A new GM strain of grass that could significantly cut methane emissions from livestock isn’t allowed to be tested in NZ, because of strict anti-GMO rules. But there’s huge reluctance among politicians to have such a debate, and I for one know that some in farming are really wary of changing the GMO rules because of how that could affect New Zealand’s global brand. As well as that, such a debate would most certainly get extremely ugly (think 1080 protests but much much more.)

Here’s a really interesting Te Wiki o te reo story from Radio NZ, about fears regional Māori dialects will be flattened out and homogenised. Like any language, dialects and regional ways of speaking developed naturally, even though they’d still be mutually intelligible to each other. But as te reo teachers move all over the country, dialects aren’t being taught, and some believe within 100 years there could just be one standard form of the language.

This is something that has been bothering me, because my beloved is about to fly across the world. Newshub have an explanation as to why there’s been a couple of planes being quarantined with ill passengers in the last few days. It’s because of an influenza outbreak in Saudi Arabia, in relation to pilgrims taking part in the Hajj, which ended last month. The advice of medical professionals to travellers is to make sure all your vaccinations are up to date.

A brief correction: Yesterday I said “thousands of people marched in a Māori language parade to Parliament.” This wasn’t correct – it started at Parliament and went to Civic Square. It might seem like a minor correction, but there’s two points to make there: Firstly, accuracy matters. And secondly, the implications of marching to Parliament are very different to marching from Parliament, to the point where the meaning of the event can feel very different. So thank you to the reader who pointed that out.

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The NIMBYs aren’t having one bit of it.

Right now on The Spinoff: Leonie Hayden sat down with Emma Espiner to discuss race baiting in the media. We take an extract from Jacinda Ardern’s chapter in a new book on the 2017 election. And Hayden Donnell asks whether Auckland Council’s consents department really believes in the vision of the Unitary Plan.

Going viral meant something very different when virologist Prof Robert Webster started his career. The pioneering New Zealand-born scientist is the subject of this great feature from the Otago Daily Times, on his long battle against the ever-mutating and dangerous influenza virus. And Professor Webster has a warning – we’re not prepared for the next major flu pandemic. Here’s an excerpt:

“There was still a long way to go. In the future lay breakthroughs (which Prof Webster would lead or contribute to) that would prove that wild aquatic birds are indeed a major reservoir of the viruses that become human pandemics and that the viruses can cause no trouble to the birds but become killers when they spread to other animals and humans. There would also be discoveries that would lead to the development of Tamiflu, still the world’s most effective treatment for people infected with influenza.

All that lay ahead. But it was a start towards understanding and trying to prevent recurrence of the most deadly recorded human influenza pandemic, the 1918 Spanish Flu. Chance events, as much as deliberate decisions, shape history.”

The revolution is here for the Silver Ferns, who will democratically elect their next captain. Newshub reports that the team will use a preferential ranking system, and incumbent Katrina Grant is backing the plan. The innovation is one of the first moves by new coach Noeline Taurua, who will face her first game in charge this Saturday against England.

From our partners, Vector’s Beth Johnson writes that if you get a cheque in the mail, no, it isn’t a scam. It’s just the Loss Rental Rebate system in action.

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